"Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided."
Proverbs 16:6 (NIV)
It's common that, as we sort through the sins in our lives and journey toward righteousness and a life pleasing to God, we experience fear. The evil one doesn't want us to have a relationship with God and preys on our natural, sinful doubts and fears to prevent it.
But, fear can conquer fear. Proverbs 14: 26 says, "Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress." But what does it mean to fear the Lord, and why should we fear a loving, merciful God who sent His Son for our salvation?
The answer comes in looking at the Bible as one, all-inclusive story. If you were to only read the New Testament, there would be little to fear. The story of Jesus and His followers is one of redemption for our sins, grace, and love. But, if you were only given the Old Testament, you would read of a vengeful, jealous God who wipes out whole nations of non-believers.
One blogger recently wrote:
"Mankind likes to take God in halves... [But think of it this way,] “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). You don’t approach fire according to your whims, but according to its nature. Or in other words, you can’t have fire on your own terms. You can enjoy its light and its warmth, but you should fear what would happen to you if you stuck your hand into the fire. It’s not going to change its nature just because you feel like toying around with it. If you care about your hand, keep it out of the flame. If you value your life, do not sin against God."
We must understand all of God's Word as one narrative. We can't have Easter Sunday without Good Friday. We can't have the promise of eternal life without the fear of judgment. But this fear is not one that causes anxiety, but instead brings awe and admiration as we think about the amazing events He put in motion to prevent us from having to spend all of eternity separated from Him. All this he did because of His love for us.
Father God, thank you for sending your only Son, Jesus, to take away our sin so we might spend our eternal life with You. Help me to look upon You with the awe and admiration you deserve. In your holy name, Amen.